My friend of 20+ years has been in the same position with a company for 30 years. It's been nearly exactly 30 years because they just flew him to New York for a company meeting where he received the traditional 30 year anniversary award of a paid in full flight for 2 to anywhere in the world ($5,000 credit). Within a month, his supervisor came down for a visit and told him they were letting him go.

The company has offered him 15 weeks severence plus $5,000 cash. After 30 years, is that a fair amount? The company is huge but is in a dying industry (sadly, book sellers) and I'm certain they are simply trying to cut the folks who they pay most and consolidate postions.

He has assumed this was likely and has been applying but can't even get an interview. One job for that long must not be as valuable as moving around from job to job now and then. 

Anyway, I'd like some thoughts on whether that severence package is fair, if he has any grounds to legally get more, and especially any thoughts on how he can position himself to new employers.

Thanks! Lydia 

DelGray's picture

It is a hard brake after 30 years - having been through it myself I can imagine your friend feels rather punched out.  Clearly it may not cut across from the UK to the US, but what I did (in retrospect) was log everything I did leading up to the notice being given and everything the company did. Who got told about what and when. I took this and my contract to an employment lawyer and reviewed it with them. In the UK this will get paid by your company as they have to give you fair legal representation – equally I could have gone to ACAS which is a government body that advises on this sort of thing.

With either ACAS or private lawyer (a specialist as it is a complex area) they should be able to say if any misconduct has gone on and the range of remuneration that is reasonable to expect. Always ask though – what are the risks, as sometimes taking it to court may only end up covering your costs, and even if something is not by the book, you may be better off not taking the risk of loosing the offer - even though I could have faught to get more it, I took the offer because of this risk - and so it didn't get drawn out, moving on (IMO) needs to be a quick, clean break.
Then listen to the MT podcasts on resumes, job applications and interviews and take the big leap – the advice works, so know no fear.

Hope this helps,


TomW's picture
Training Badge

"Grounds to legally get more??"

I think your concern sounds like one of a self-entitled 17 year old. Some people are let go after 30 years with nothing. No severance. No cash. Just a promise of a kind reference.

Grow up.

mtietel's picture
Training Badge

I'd assume nothing - certainly not that "they are trying to cut the folks who they pay the most".

But then I live in an "at will" employment state where you can be let go for any reason or no reason at all.

As such I've seen severance packages that range from 4 weeks pay plus a week for each year of employment to, like TomW, nothing at all.

The concept of "fair" doesn't apply.  However, the offered package seems reasonable.  It's a dying industry; take what's offered and focus on the future.  In my experience the packages offered to the next group of people are certain to be worse!

AppleJack's picture
Training Badge

Under these circumstances the only question I would ask the company is: What will it say in my employment file? Will it say yes they would hire me again if an appropriate position were available? Whenever possible, you want a "yes" here, so that the former employer is providing a neutral but positive answer to any future employers calling to check references.

Personally I would prefer to leave on good terms with the employer and colleagues, and would not challenge a severance package. Energy needs to be focused on finding a new job, not fighting for more severance from the old. The fight takes too big a toll on you and distracts from focusing on the future Being separated from your job is like any loss, and follows the same Kubler-Ross 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance). Best to try not getting stuck in the bargaining phase.

I highly recommend that your friend listen to the Interview Series podcasts. The Manager Tools team really know their stuff. Their guidance is consistent with the best advice I've seen over the years, not the popular job seeking advice, the best advice.

Tell your friend to hang in there and as Mark says: Stay frosty.


tplummer's picture

 As long as the company can't be accused of age discrimination, I'd say any severance package in today's economy is more than fair. They are showing him respect by offering him 4 months of pay plus $5k. I doubt there are many companies offering such a generous offer. Oh, and I wish him the best. It's not "fair" to him if they are letting him go because of his higher salary. But, today, it's the employee who has to look after themselves, not the other way around.



asteriskrntt1's picture

Of course your friend can get a lawyer and try to negotiate more.  Companies usually have a set range of packages based on years of service, pay grade, seniority etc.  Imagine if a company laying off 2000 people had to negotiate a package with each one?  Nothing would get done.

Some things I know people have negotiated after the original offer.

Outplacement services, more severance, continuing health benefits, education/training funding.  Remember, if you don't ask, you won't get.